Important move to stand against Israeli occupation (via Inside Higher Ed):
The general membership of the Association for Asian American Studies has unanimously approved a resolution endorsing the boycott of Israeli universities, making it the first scholarly organization in the U.S. to do so, according to the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
About 10 percent of the association’s membership was present for last week’s secret ballot vote, which was open to all members and took place on the final day of the AAAS annual conference in Seattle. The resolution raises a number of concerns about the impact of Israeli policies on Palestinian students and scholars – including restrictions on travel and the forced closure or destruction of schools as a result of Israeli military actions – and describes Israeli academic institutions as “deeply complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights and in its denial of the right to education and academic freedom to Palestinians, in addition to their basic rights as guaranteed by international law.”
“Be it resolved that the Association for Asian American Studies endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions,” the resolution reads in part. “Be it also resolved that the Association for Asian American Studies supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.”
The AAAS president, Mary Yu Danico, confirmed the resolution was approved and directed questions to the association’s past president, Rajini Srikanth, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Srikanth likened the academic boycott to that which was levied against South African universities to protest apartheid, and emphasized that the boycott is of institutions, not individual academics. “The reason that we’re very clear that this is a boycott of Israeli institutions and not Israeli scholars is that we are very aware that there are Israeli scholars who understand the difficulties that Palestinian academics and students have and speak up in support of Palestinian rights,” she said. “So we would absolutely be working with them, and providing them whatever support they need to challenge their institutions.”
At the same time, she said, “We would discourage partnerships with Israeli academic institutions, whether they’re curriculum partnerships or study abroad partnerships, because that would be becoming complicit with the discriminatory practices of Israeli institutions, and we would be encouraging faculty, staff and students to forge alliances with Palestinian faculty and Palestinian students who now have so much difficulty engaging in conversations with scholars from the rest of the world.”